“On Second Thought”
Written by Eddie Rabbitt
#1 (2 weeks)
February 17 – February 24, 1990
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
February 2, 1990
An Urban Cowboy icon enjoys his final No. 1 single.
The Road to No. 1
Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in New Jersey, Eddie Rabbitt didn’t fit the profile of most country artists of his era. But his songwriting chops and some good timing on his part made him one of the biggest stars of the late seventies and early eighties. His initial hits impacted only the country chart, but as the Urban Cowboy era got into full swing, he became one of the biggest crossover stars of that time. He was one of the few artists to actually score a No. 1 pop hit (“I Love a Rainy Night”), and he also found success at country, pop, and AC radio with big hits like “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Step by Step,” and “You and I”, the last of which featured harmony from Crystal Gayle.
Even as pop radio moved on, Rabbitt remained a very successful country act, scoring 32 consecutive top ten hits from 1976 through 1988. After one single faltered in early 1989, he returned with what would become his final No. 1 single.
The No. 1
Hits like “Drivin’ My Life Away” were the sound of a man completely in tune with the times. “On Second Thought” is the sound of an older man trying to keep up with the changing times. As the airwaves were now dominated by new traditionalists like Randy Travis and Clint Black, Rabbitt earned his final No. 1 by going just as traditional, perhaps even beyond his own comfort zone.
It’s a cute song about jealousy that has none of the dark, moody undertones of his earlier hit, “Suspicions.” Here, the dude gets jealous, says some unkind words, and walks out…only to backtrack immediately, realizing he’s in the wrong. It’s one of his better songwriting compositions, and it’s not surprising that he topped the charts with it, given its sound and his enduring popularity as an artist.
The sound doesn’t quite fit him though, and he just can’t ease into a fiddle and steel groove the way that he could effortlessly do so on a pop and R&B flavored track. This is very much not his kind of country. It’s a game effort, though, and an enjoyable late career hit from an eighties superstar.
The Road From No. 1
“On Second Thought” was the lead off single from his 1990 album Jersey Boy, which produced three more singles, including his final top ten Billboard hit, “Runnin’ With the Wind.” Rabbitt then fell victim to the nineties wave of new artists which would push nearly all of the artists of his era off of the radio dial. His next album, released only one year later, produced only one charting hit, and would be his final major label release.
Rabbitt returned in 1997 with Beatin’ the Odds, an independent release that was recorded as he was undergoing chemotherapy. The following April, he released Songs From Rabbittland, which was a collection of songs and stories for children. Only one month later, he passed away at the age of 56, following a battle with cancer.
“On Second Thought” gets a B.
Previous: Ricky Van Shelton, “Statue of a Fool”
Next: Alabama, “Southern Star”